Last week, Rep. Darrell Issa‘s all-male House hearing on contraception made headlines around the world for its tone-deafness and for simply reinforcing the fact that the GOP is waging war against women. Today, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced Democrats will hold a House hearing Thursday on the issue of contraception and women’s health, and the key witness will be the woman the Democrats tried to get on Issa’s panel to testify, but who was refused. However, for the first time, possibly ever, the Republicans are getting in the way of the public viewing the testimony of the witness whom they refused to allow to testify last week.
Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke’s testimony may not be recorded or televised because Republicans are refusing to allow the House recording studio to tape the proceedings.
“In a note to reporters on Thursday, Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said the House Administration Committee, chaired by Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Calif., ‘has apparently reversed existing policy and denied a request from the Democratic leadership for the House Recording Studio to cover this event and provide video publicly so all Americans can finally hear Ms. Fluke’,” according to the National Journal:
Hammill said Lungren’s committee, while under Democratic control in July 2008, lifted restrictions on the use of the studio to accommodate requests made by leadership. If Lungren has reversed this policy, wrote Hammill, “he has done so in secret and not consulted with [committee] Democrats. This leaves us only to think that the House Republican leadership is acting out yet again to silence women on the topic of women’s health.”
Hammill added that since the beginning of 2011, the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee has held eight hearings on various topics and that the recording studio had always covered these hearings unless pre-booked for something else.
“This is the first time the Democratic leadership has been told that the [recording studio] cannot cover this hearing because it is a hearing of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee,” Hammill said.
A spokeswoman for Lungren and House Administration Committee Republicans had no immediate response.
The Huffington Post adds:
Several Democrats walked out of [last week's] hearing to protest Issa’s refusal to allow Fluke to testify, in addition to being upset about Republicans picking an almost entirely male cast of witnesses to testify on contraception matters.
According to a copy of her prepared remarks for Issa’s hearing, Fluke would have told the story of a classmate who lost an ovary because of a condition that causes ovarian cysts. Georgetown University is affiliated with the Catholic church and does not insure birth control, which is used to treat the classmate’s syndrome.
Relatedly, the robo-polling firm Public Policy Polling just released a new poll for DailyKos finding that a big majority, 67 percent, say that all workers should be allowed access to health care coverage even if employers think the service in question violates their “religious beliefs or moral convictions.” That’s in line with one other major national telephone poll.
But Republicans still think this could be a political winner for them if they succeed in framing this as a battle over religious liberty and in advancing the subtext about Obama, big government, faith and values their message is intended to advance. Indeed, Republicans, too, are planning to double down on this fight, whatever the risks.
According to another announcement making the rounds, the GOP-controlled House Judiciary Committee is planning yet another hearing for next Tuesday, this one called: “Executive Overreach: The HHS Mandate Versus Religious Liberty.”
Image: Nancy Pelosi’s Twitter feed
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